Top Court Won’t Revive Undocumented-Immigrant Housing Ban

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from Pennsylvania and Texas towns that sought to bar landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants.

The justices today left intact lower court rulings that said the measures in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Farmers Branch, Texas, ran afoul of federal immigration law.

The cases offered the high court the chance to revisit the steps that states and local governments can take to crack down on illegal immigration. In 2012, the justices struck down parts of an Arizona law, including criminal provisions that would have barred people from being in the state without proper documentation.

Hazleton, a town of 25,000 in eastern Pennsylvania, enacted a series of ordinances aimed at undocumented immigrants in 2006 and 2007. The housing law opened landlords and occupants to fines and, if they didn’t pay, imprisonment. A separate ordinance barred employment of undocumented aliens.

Tenants and nonprofit groups, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, challenged the Hazleton laws. A Philadelphia-based federal appeals court invalidated the housing and employment provisions.

Farmers Branch, a suburb of Dallas, enacted a similar housing ordinance in 2008. A New Orleans-based federal appeals court struck down the measure as incompatible with U.S. immigration law.

The cases are Farmers Branch v. Villas, 13-516, and Hazleton v. Lozano, 13-531.

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